Friday, August 26, 2005

Happy Birthday, Right to Vote!

Today marks the 85th anniversary of the day Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, thereby giving women the right to vote. Information and document images here and here. Although not strictly a women's health issue, voting is ever-important as women's health issues continue to be politicized. To celebrate the day, I share with you this story:

One of my clearest, fondest memories of my Korean Grandmother is being allowed to go in a voting booth with her when I was barely tall enough to see over the ballot options and buttons. It was a pleasant day outside, voting took place in a public school on a hill, and I remember excitedly stepping into the booth with her and having the curtain pulled around us. Grandma then cast her vote, and off we went, but it didn't seem at all anti-climatic. It was exciting, and also something that had to be done. There were many other times during my childhood when I was loaded up in the car, because "we have to take Grandma to vote." When she was born in 1926, women had only had the right to vote for 6 years. I was stunned to realize that one of my great-grandmothers had turned 19 before women were allowed to vote. We see the old photos and think the suffrage movement was something "a really long time ago," but I think most of us forget that we may have known women in our lives who were not always legally entitled to vote.

I don't doubt that those early trips to the voting booth contributed to my lingering interest in all things political, and the fact that I have never missed an opportunity to vote in a presidential election (something unusual for my age bracket). I don't remember who she voted for that day, but the message certainly stayed with me.

I encourage you all to become more informed about politics, particularly issues that affect your body and health, and get out there and vote. It wasn't so long ago that the women in our families didn't have that choice.

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